Huy Quan is used to giving acceptance speeches during the awards season of Everything Everywhere All On Once — but at the Gold Gala in Los Angeles on Saturday night, he was still feeling overwhelmed. "You all made me feel comfortable enough to share my feelings," the newly minted Oscar winner said while accepting the night's leading actor award. "A lot has happened in the past year, especially in recent months. I'm still trying to make sense of it."
As he often does during awards season, Kwon shared in Hollywood how he feels he lives up to expectations. "I think my story is different because I'm not the winner you imagine. I don't fit the mold," he said. “It took me a long time to understand this. I finally realized that winners don’t have to look the same. You can win too if you just believe in yourself. Dreams are something you keep, so don’t let anyone take them away. Hosted by Gold House, the second annual event honors trailblazing Asian creators and pays homage to past and present. Kwon joins the Academy Award-winning Everywhere team and filmmaker Jonathan Wang to share stories of his own growing up, the Chinese New Year tradition of bowing to elders. Actors and filmmakers are clearing the way for more stories like theirs to be brought to life.
But like many honorees, Quan also has his eyes on the future. "Now that we have so many people, I'm so excited for you," he said in his speech. The second annual gala featured many of Hollywood's greatest Asian American stars, including Daniel Dae Kim, Awkwafina, Randall Parker, Ashley Parker, Jamie Chung, Ming-Na Wen, Xiaoni Hsu, and Poorna Jagannathan, along with directors Celine Song and Destin Daniel Clayton. Other notable guests included athletes such as skier Chloe Kim and skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani, as well as celebrities such as Queer Eye's Tan France and YouTube star Eugene Lee Yang.
The night's honorees were drawn from the media, finance, and entertainment industries, including Netflix's Bela Bajaria, Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, trans-right-wing activist Geena Rocero, Panda Express co-founders Andrew Cherng and Peggy Cherng, CEO of East West Bank Dominic Ng, Tony Award winner Leah Salonga and Ms. Marvel star Iman Wellani. Eva Longoria won the first-ever Golden Ally Award. "When I look at this room, I can't help but think of our ancestors. They must have been so proud," Longoria said.
The evening, held at Jerry Moss Plaza at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles, also included a tribute to the Joy Luck Club's 30th anniversary. The 1993 show, which won the evening's Golden Generation award, was mentioned throughout the night by fellow winners for the role it played in their own upbringing, and for many, it was the first show to have them on screen See your own movies on the show. When Joy Luck Club producer Yang Jiechi (now president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) took the stage alongside movie stars Ming-Na Wen, Vicki Zhao, Lauren Tom, Tamlyn Tomita, Qiao Zheng, and Lisa Lu, they received a standing ovation. "Among these women, I'm a small role, but a very lucky one," Yang said as he walked onstage with other movie stars. Chinh added that after all this time, it feels important to still stand together: "After 30 years, the emotion is still there. Not just for the movie, but for the family as well."
Sandra Oh, who won the SeeHer Award that night, was the first to have a lasting impact on The Joy Luck Club. "Like so many of us here, Joy Luck means a lot to me," she said. "When I was watching this movie, what I was going through was sadness. I was so sad that I didn't see myself until that moment."
The Killing Eve star, who has been hailed as a "gender equality advocate, authentic portrayal, defying stereotypes and pushing boundaries in front of and behind the camera," admitted on stage, "I've actually spent my entire career trying to get this honor .’ A name, not just for myself, but for others.”
"I think finding something worth seeing is a deeply personal journey that can't be achieved or discovered just by seeing yourself on a screen," she continued. Because what really sees is not limited to our eyes. As Maya Angelou said: "People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."